Earlier this week came the stunning and welcome news that Alexander Oxlade-Chamberlain had resumed full training with the club. It was a relief for the fan favorite and had many citizens in Liverpool Country ready to jump for joy at the thought of seeing the midfielder wear the Red shirt in more than just a late-season cameo.
Out of that, though, were many words of caution. The landscape of sports are rife with athletes - whose labor is valued over their health and well-being all too often - living out nightmare scenarios where injury gets piled upon injury due to the pressures of rushing back in order to secure one’s place on the pitch and to ensure continued success for the club. It is a bit of a self-perpetuating cycle that makes losers of everyone all in service of the fanatical yoke to winning above everything.
So, it is with relief if no real surprise given the way Jurgen Klopp seems to genuinely care about his charges, that the boss has today given remarks to the official site that reveal there is no rush to push AOC onto the pitch before he is fully fit and ready.
“We cannot, and will not, use Ox before he is 100 per cent in all parts of the game, because anything else after not playing for a year pretty much, the risk would be higher. There is no reason for any risk. We want to keep him fit and healthy and use him for the next years.”
Jurgen clearly knows that beyond being an investment or asset to the club, which he clearly alludes to here, he knows that AOC is a human person. And all humans - even the maybe-he’s-an-android-but-until-we-see-wires-we-can’t-confirm James Milner - need proper rest and recuperation to remain working at the tip top shape. So, that’s what AOC will get with the club in a great position to absorb his considerable talent when he’s finally fit.
But it’s also great to know that Jurgen is doing this while also expressing a relatable excitement to that of the many fans that Ox has. Speaking of the footage released showing AOC in training, Klopp admitted to a clear joy at having the midfielder back in the fold.
“I loved it like the fans loved it, if they loved it! It is just brilliant! I didn’t lie, I said when you see him moving it is just unbelievable, he looks completely fine. The situation is now that we have to build endurance. What they did so far, it makes sense. You do the things to make sure the knee is again at 100 per cent. That’s obviously the case and that’s good, but from that moment on then you need time to adapt to the intensity of the game and that will take a while. But I pretty much can’t wait until we can involve him, at least for [a few] minutes. It is so nice.”
The Gaffer once more reveals himself to be as much a fan of these players as any of us watching and observing from much further away. It is no doubt out that love and concern that he has set up expectations and hopes that privilege the health of his people above the bottom-line. Which is refreshing and certainly a terrific nod towards the type of club that the folks at FSG and fans of LFC would love to root for. The depth exists, there is quality across the first team. There is a capable manager. We can take the time to not rush back a player before they are fully rehabbed. We can put the player’s health above all other things. That is a club worth rooting for.